A car accident can feel terrifying, confusing, and devastating, especially when you did nothing to cause it. A crash can also result in serious injury, damage, and loss that can disrupt your life, forcing you to deal with unexpected expenses and daunting challenges.
If you’re in a car accident, you may not know whether you should hire an attorney. Below you’ll find some information to help you make that decision.
What Attorneys Do for Car Accident Victims
Part of the uncertainty about whether to hire an attorney usually stems from the fact that many people do not really know what an attorney can do for them after a car accident. That’s not surprising. After all, many people go through life trying to avoid the legal situations that require an attorney.
Of course, a car accident isn’t something you can just choose to avoid. The injuries and losses happen despite your best efforts to stay safe.
A car accident lawyer’s job, in a nutshell, is to help you deal with that fallout from a car accident, principally by getting you the compensation you need to pay your expenses, get healthy, and return to your normal life.
How does a lawyer do that? It depends on the unique facts of the crash and the particular needs of the injured accident victim.
However, in general, an experienced attorney can:
- Investigate the circumstances of a car accident to figure out exactly how it happened and who should bear the blame for it.
- Evaluate the scope of the injuries a victim has suffered, both financial and personal, to come up with an amount of money the victim deserves to receive as compensation.
- Explain the victim’s options for securing that compensation, and answer the victim’s questions in straightforward, easy-to-understand terms.
- Prepare and file the paperwork necessary to file a claim against an insurance company and/or the party (or parties) at fault for the crash.
- Interact with insurance companies and defense lawyers on the victim’s behalf.
- Negotiate a fair settlement of the victim’s claim with those parties whenever possible.
- Represent the victim in court proceedings, including by taking the case to trial when necessary to present the case to a judge and jury.
- Collect the money due to the victim through a settlement, judgment, or jury award.
Most car accident lawyers do this work without requiring that the victim pay the lawyer a dime up-front as a fee. Instead, experienced car accident lawyers typically take cases on contingency, so they only get paid if they secure money for the victim. They collect their fee out of that money, not from a client’s own pocket. This makes their services affordable to anyone who needs them.
Times When It’s a Good Idea to Get an Attorney
Now that we’ve covered what a car accident lawyer does, let’s look at some scenarios in which it’s usually a smart choice to contact a car accident lawyer.
You got hurt in a car accident yesterday
This is, perhaps, the most obvious scenario in which it makes good sense to contact a car accident attorney. If you suffer injuries in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, the law generally entitles you to compensation from the individuals, businesses, or others whose unreasonable actions caused the crash.
That could include, for example:
- A careless or reckless driver
- A business that employed the careless driver
- An automotive manufacturer that sold defective parts
- A government agency that failed to maintain safe roads
The most important thing to know in this scenario is that the sooner you call an attorney, the better your odds of receiving the maximum compensation available for your injuries and losses. In fact, you would do well to contact a lawyer immediately, so long as you have attended to your immediate medical needs.
You got into a car accident two weeks ago, and you’ve started to feel aches, pains, and other health effects
Sometimes, you might “walk away” from a car accident thinking you escaped it without injury, only to realize a few days later that you might not have been as lucky as you thought. As soon as you start feeling these ill effects, you should seek medical attention to begin treating them and to help document the connection between any injuries a doctor finds and the accident. Then, it can help to call a lawyer. As above, the sooner you get a lawyer working for you, the better your chances of getting the money you need.
You got into a car accident last year, and your doctor just found a chronic injury most likely caused by it
Some injuries hide from you, only appearing months or years after the trauma that caused them. Degenerative back injuries, for example, or brain injuries that evolve slowly, can afflict car accident victims long after a crash.
If you find yourself in this situation, it’s not too late to call a lawyer. In many cases, you may yet have the right to take legal action seeking compensation for your injuries. Skilled car accident lawyers can often work with medical and other experts to establish the link between your long-ago car accident and the chronic conditions you now face.
Your loved one died from car accident injuries
Some car accidents result in tragic losses of life. In those cases, spouses and family members of the deceased victim often may seek compensation for the harm they have suffered from that untimely death. With the help of an experienced car accident attorney, the surviving family of a deceased car accident victim can pursue a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault parties.
Do Not Wait Any Longer
Car accidents can take a heavy toll on your life. In their aftermath, it might feel difficult to turn your attention to hiring an attorney. However, the sooner you call on a lawyer for help, the better your chances of getting the compensation you deserve. If you wait too long, however, you may lose your rights altogether.
If a car accident injured you and need help negotiating your settlement options, reach out to a car accident attorney today for a free consultation.